Panel against cartoon-free textbooks

The controversy over the use of “objectionable” cartoons in the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) political science text books is far from over, as members of a national monitoring committee examining the issue have remained divided over accepting a recommendation for removal of 22 of such caricatures.

A six-member committee, which was set up by the HRD Ministry to review the NCERT textbooks in the wake of the controversy, recently recommended deletion of as many as 22 cartoons including the one of B R Ambedkar from the political science books of class IX to XII, describing them “sensitive” in nature and “sending negative message”.

But when the report came before the national monitoring committee (NMC) at its meeting on Saturday, many of its members found the Thorat committee recommendations and observations “inadequate” and disappointing, sources in the national panel told Deccan Herald.

The committee, which was expected to take a final call on the issue, decided that it will thoroughly examine the Thorat committee recommendations and prepare a note on its observations and recommendations.

A final decision on the issue of deleting “objectionable” caricatures from the text books will be later taken by the National Council for Educational Research and Training (NCERT) only in the light of the note to be prepared by the on the Thorat committee report.

Meanwhile, textbook development committees that decide and design contents of NCERT text books, will discuss the issue of deletion of “objectionable” caricatures with the NCERT Director Pravin Sinclair.

“Keeping in mind the public debate on some cartoons in the political science textbooks, it was decided that the textbook development committees concerned would work with the Director, NCERT, and make whatever changes are required,” an NCERT official said.

The NMC, which was set up by the central advisory board on education in 2005 to examine and review the NCERT text books, is headed by eminent academicians G P Deshpande and Mrinal Miri.

The Thorat report has been facing sharp criticism since it was submitted to the NCERT. It has witnessed objections not only from a large number of intellectuals and academicians but one of its own members, M S S Pandian, a professor in the Jawaharlal Nehru University, too.

Arun Patnaik, a political science professor from Hyderabad University, and Apurba K Baruah, head of the political science department at North-Eastern Hill University, whose expert opinion had been sought by the Thorat committee, too objected to the manner in which the panel ignored submissions by the experts.

They alleged that, though, the experts were consulted, their views and submissions were not completely incorporated in the final report of the Thorat committee.

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